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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

DIY Measuring Mat for Cutting

When I made my first ever CKC pattern I was intrigued by the idea of using a cutting chart to save on paper and time. I carefully used a yard stick and pencil to mark the rectangles on my fabric, and then I cut them out with fabric scissors. It really did save time and I loved how her tiny dress turned out!  After awhile I realized that other ladies were using a rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut out their rectangles. That's even faster!  A LOT faster. But I wasn't quite ready to commit to the price for those tools yet.  

Sound familiar?  

I continued my yardstick and pencil method for awhile, and quite honestly I would have given anything to know the trick that I'm about to teach you today!!!  If you do not have the funds (or desire) to purchase a rotary cutter and mat quite yet, you can still use the same super fast cutting method they do, by making your own measuring mat out of supplies you have around the house! 


With this do-it-yourself measuring mat, you will be able to easily measure your fabric, mark them with a fabric pencil, and then cut them out with fabric scissors. Suuuuuper fast!  (If you aren't convinced that this method will save you time, be sure to check out our blog post on How to Use a Rotary Cutter! We can cut out a super ruffly dress in 10 minutes, max.)   

This measuring mat project won't take long either!  Today I made mine in less than 20 minutes, and that included extra time for taking pictures and keeping kiddos entertained. And best of all, I didn't have to buy anything special to make it. You can do this!  Let's get started. 



Supplies: 

Large piece of cardboard or poster board
Yardstick or long ruler
Wrapping paper with squares marked on the backside 
Clear tape 
Sharpie marker (or other that can write on tape)
Paper scissors



First, you need to check and make sure that the squares on your wrapping paper are exactly 1" wide and tall. I suggest that instead of looking at just 1 square, that you look at 10 squares and make sure they measure 10".  (Despite how it appears in the photo above, mine are all exactly one inch, I promise!) 

If your squares are not perfect, you need to find new wrapping paper with perfect squares. If they are even a little bit off, they will cause major problems for your sizing!

If your squares are exactly 1", continue on. 



Now measure your board and round down to the nearest inch. Mine is 21" x 27."


 Now cut out those dimensions from your wrapping paper, using the lines as a guide. I cut 21 squares long and 27 squares wide. You don't need to be too picky about cutting perfectly on the lines, because it is not your final size. 



Now trim 1/2" off each side of your paper. This time you will want to make nice clean cuts as you go, but it does not have to be perfect.  In fact, the reason we are trimming this is so that when we measure our fabric, we are starting at an exact printed line rather than a cut line. It also gives us room to label our lines, but we'll get to that later. 


 After cutting 1/2" off each side, your paper should now look like this. Throw away the scraps or let your kids play with them. 


Lay the squared paper on your poster board and center it. Notice that it should be 1/2" from the edge on all sides. 


Very carefully tape the squared paper in place. I suggest you begin by taping down each corner, making sure there are no wrinkles. It is very important for the paper to lay perfectly flat so the squares won't be distorted. This is not difficult; just important!  Continue taping around the paper until all the edges are fully secured.  



Now you're ready to mark your measuring mat! I lay my mat so it is taller than it is wide. Then I start on the bottom left corner, as shown above.  First, using a sharpie, mark the corner where you will measure from with your fabric. Notice that this is not the corner of the paper; it is the corn of the grid lines.  That will be your zero.  Then label each line (not square) as you count across the mat. Write neatly because you will be looking at them many times! After you have labeled across the mat, begin again at 0 and this time count up the mat as you label each line. 



Then along the top of the mat, label each line so it matches the number at the bottom of the mat.  Then label the right side of the mat so that each line matches the number on the left side of the mat. 

Optional:  You might want to draw on increments for 1/4" and 1/2" markings along the edges as well. If you do, be sure to draw with a smaller pen or a different color so it doesn't become confusing when you're cutting.  I personally left the smaller increments off because I am familiar with them and I don't want to clutter my mat. 

That's it! You're done making your measuring mat and now you can get started right away!  



 Simply lay the mat and fabric on a flat surface, use a yardstick to measure according to the chart, draw on the lines with a fabric pencil, and cut out the fabric using fabric scissors. If you need extra help understanding how to fold the fabric to fit it on your mat and make efficient cuts, be sure you read our blog post on how to use a rotary cutter. The only difference is that you use your pencil instead of a rotary blade! 

I hope you enjoy this new technique as you fall in love with our many adorable patterns at Create Kids Couture

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

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